The American University recently published a review in which it analyzed several international studies to assess whether there was a relationship between closures and a decrease in the Covid death rate, concluding that the closures had little or no impact on public health. But this thesis has been contradicted by many scholars from other universities who consider that the John Hopkins study is in fact very unreliable.
February 15 During these two years of the pandemic, we have often witnessed bitter and controversial confrontations between scientists over different aspects of this health emergency.
Often the effect of these diatribes is to confuse the average person (but also our political decision-makers), leaving a sense of bewilderment on the field but also giving life to real-life factions of thought that influence individual and group behaviors and decisions. Action to tackle the epidemic.
To all this, scientists are the first to answer that science is constantly evolving and that what appears today to be true tomorrow is no longer so, or vice versa.
The problem is that with this pandemic we have learned firsthand what it means to do one thing or do another (remember the doubts about masks at the beginning of the emergency, when today they are a protector that no one asks about anymore?) (which was alarming, and at once reassuring) uttered by different scholars (but sometimes by the same person changing his mind) has at least confused us, leading us to situations in spite of ourselves that are not always consistent.
In this case, today there is a new controversy about which little is said in Italy, except for the position taken by the senator (the doctor) in our newspaper. Laura Stapel From Forza Italia who mentioned it yesterday in a message.
Controversy arose after the publication of Johns Hopkins University A review that aims, as the authors themselves wrote, to determine whether or not there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce mortality from COVID-19.
Having made it clear that by closing we mean imposing at least one mandatory non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI), the prestigious American University review ends with the thesis that “closures have had little or no impact on mortality from COVID-19”.
But the authors still say “instead, they imposed huge economic and social costs where they were adopted.”
For this reason, “blocking policies have no basis and should be excluded from the tools to combat the epidemic.”
Given that this thesis does not come from corrupt or conspiracy circles but from a university whose authority is universally recognized, it is clear that it has been much discussed within the international scientific community.
A very heated debate thanks to the data set made by the network media center sciences It allows us to shed light on the number of equally reliable scientists on the matter.
But let’s first take a closer look at the conclusions of the Johns Hopkins review.
The study used a systematic search and examination procedure in which 18,590 potentially relevant studies were identified. After three levels of investigation, only 24 were definitively selected on which analysis of lockdown policies regarding health and mortality effects was based.
Analysis of these studies led to the conclusion that the lockdowns had little or no effect on the COVID-19 mortality rate.
In particular, studies on the Accuracy Index of Approved Measures had found that blockades in Europe and the United States reduced COVID-19 deaths by an average of 0.2%. Stay-at-home calls were also ineffective, and they could have reduced the COVID-19 death rate by 2.9%.
Furthermore, specific studies on non-pharmaceutical measures do not highlight widespread evidence for observed effects on COVID-19 mortality.
In short, the complete rejection, at least for the purpose of containing Covid deaths, of all approved closure measures including the most common ones such as isolation and distancing but also the mask.
So let’s see what other scientists think
to Neil FergusonMD, Director of the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Jameel Institute, Imperial College London, “This report on the impact of the ‘blockade’ does not enhance our understanding of the relative effectiveness of a large number of health measures. Public policies adopted by different countries to reduce transmission of COVID-19. First Policies that included “blocking” varied widely between countries, which means that defining the term is problematic.
“The second and most important issue is that the statistical methods used to estimate the effect of NPIs using observational data must be appropriate,” Ferguson says. “Such interventions aim to reduce contact rates between individuals in a population, so their main effect, if effective, would be on rates of Transmission Effects on hospitalization and mortality are delayed, in some cases for several weeks.Moreover, these measures were generally introduced (or intensified) during times when governments experienced a rapid increase in hospitalizations and deaths Therefore, the mortality rate that is observed Immediately after introduction of closure is generally higher. Also, blockade is not a single event as has been hypothesized by some of the studies feeding into the meta-analysis hypothesis; the duration of the intervention should be taken into account when assessing its effect.”
to Seth FlaxmanD., Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, “Smoking causes cancer, the Earth is round, and ordering people to stay home (correct definition of lockdown) reduces transmission. None of this is controversial among scientists. The study that claims to prove otherwise is almost be assured that it will be fundamentally defective.”
Flaxman notes that in this case, three economists conducted a meta-analysis of several previous studies. So far, so good. But they have systematically excluded any studies based on the science of transmission, meaning that the only studies that are taken into account in the analysis are those using economics methods. These do not include key facts about disease transmission such as: subsequent blocks are less effective than previous blocks, because many people are already infected; The blockades do not save lives immediately, because there is a delay from infection to death, so to see the impact of the blockade on Covid deaths, we have to wait about two or three weeks.”
“It’s as if we wanted to find out if smoking causes cancer and so we asked a group of new smokers: Did you get cancer the day before you started smoking? What about the next day? If we do, we’re obviously wrong if we conclude that smoking has nothing to do with Cancer, but we will ignore the basic science. Pathology and its causes are complex and bring us many surprises but there are appropriate ways to study it and inappropriate ways. This study intentionally excludes all studies rooted in epidemiology, pathology,” concludes Dr. Flaxman.
Sameer BhattThe Professor of Statistics and Public Health at Imperial College London also expressed a lot of bewilderment: “I find this document to be flawed and should be interpreted very carefully. Two years later, it still appears to be focused on the first wave of SARS-COV2 and in a very limited number of countries. side The most paradoxical is a reinterpretation of what closure is.The authors define closure as “the imposition of at least one mandatory non-pharmaceutical intervention.”
This interpretation will make wearing a mask equivalent to a block. For a meta-analysis, using a definition that is incompatible with the dictionary definition (an isolated or restricted access state defined as a security measure) is odd. The authors, continues Bhatt, confuse matters further when they return in Table 7 to the more common definition of closure. It is an umbrella word for a series of strict policies designed to reduce reproductive numbers to less than one and halt the exponential growth of infections. The blockade of Denmark and the blockade of the United Kingdom consist of completely different individual policies.”
to David PattonHead of the Department of Industrial Economics, University of Nottingham Business School, it should be noted that “First, the document has not yet been peer-reviewed. It appears to be of good quality but it is clear that the results should be interpreted with this caveat.”
In short, the comments of these scholars seem to agree with the fact that the Johns Hopkins Review should not be taken as pure gold, and for some the ambiguities are so strong that they question the entire study from the point of view of method and merit.
The problem is that, as with almost all scientific controversies that have arisen around Covid, also in this case what can remain a normal technical-scientific dispute over methods and results clearly presents the aspect of exploitation or at least the “explanations” affected part of those who have always seen Lockdown is a useless and liberating measure, but also among those who supported it to the contrary and on those criticisms of the John Hopkins review can be persuaded that the lockdown worked, and how.
What can I say… Paraphrasing Humphrey Bogart: “It’s an aesthetics and you can’t help it!”.
February 15 2022
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